Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why Would Anyone Do Field Sobriety Tests?

"Would you mind doing some tests for me real quick just to make sure your are alright to drive?"

By the time a police officer is asking a driver this question, chances are he has already made up his mind that the driver is intoxicated.  Believing that they really don't have a choice and that the tests are presumably fair and objective assessments of their state of sobriety, most drivers agree to perform these tests.  Unfortunately, following this testing, most drivers are shocked to hear the officer say "turn around and face the car, place your hands behind your back" as he cuffs and arrests them for operating while intoxicated.

When a lawyer meets with the confused driver the following morning to discuss the predicament he now faces, there is a consistent theme to the conversation. The driver believes he performed well on the field sobriety tests and cannot understand why the officer claims he failed and is further frustrated and shocked to learn that he never had to perform field sobriety tests in the first place.

Field sobriety tests in the State of Iowa are completely "voluntary."  There is no way that a police officer can compel a person to perform these tests.  If field sobriety tests are declined, chances are the officer will place the individual under arrest which nobody every wants to experience.  However, as many drivers find out the hard way, submitting to the tests inevitably leads to the same result but with additional problem that the State then has more evidence to use against the driver in an effort to prove he was "under the influence of alcohol." 

There really is no good reason why someone would or should submit to field sobriety testing.  Why voluntarily subject yourself to a test that may well be used to incriminate you, especially when you are nervous, scared and your muscle and memory coordination is not what it would ordinarily be under optimal conditions?  Furthermore, many officers have testified that a person passing a particular field sobriety test is not evidence of their sobriety.  Why would anyone agree to take a test that they don't get credit for passing?  Add to all of this, the fact that many officer will "fail" drivers on field sobriety tests even when the driver is completely sober.  In a study conducted at the University of Clemson, researchers found that officers concluded completely sober individuals had "too much to drink" when evaluating their performance of these tests an astounding 46% of the time.  Why would anyone agree to take a test that specially trained police officers get wrong almost half of the time?


Finally, as the below video demonstrates, in order to be an effective sobriety evaluation, the test should be something that is reasonably simple for the average person to perform sober.  If this police officer is having trouble simply demonstrating the test, why would anyone agree to perform the test when their freedom is on the line?


video

(If video does not open and play, click here)

The biggest reason that drivers submit to field sobriety tests is because they do not know that they do not have to submit to field sobriety tests or are not confident in their rights.  The lawyers at GRL Law have developed a smart phone application to assist motorists in knowing and effectively exercising their rights.  Download your free version of the Oh Crap App, available at iTunes and Android Market. Know your rights; Exercise your rights; Preserve your freedom!

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